Why be an artist? By Noel Sheridan. Video by Leigh Hobba.
When in 1992 PICA’s inaugural Director, the late Noel Sheridan, initiated the National Graduate Show, an exhibition of graduate work from art teaching institutions throughout Australia, little did he know what a legacy he would create.
Thirty years later, this survey of the work of art school graduates from around Australia, has become a much loved and anticipated national institution. Presented every year since its first iteration, it has over time undergone a number of refreshes and refinements, including the adoption of the title of Hatched in 1995, a cheeky moniker bestowed by Sarah Miller, PICA Director (1994 – 2006).
One of my first experiences as PICA Director was Hatched, the 2006 version. It was a wild ride – an all-consuming juggernaut for our small team, but when dozens of the exhibiting artists arrived from all over Australia for the biggest craziest exhibition opening I had ever witnessed, the energy and passion that reverberated throughout our building was palpable….and the whole thing highly addictive. I instantly understood why this show had been part of PICA’s annual program since year one, and why it had lasted the distance.
Here we are in 2021 and Hatched is as compelling and relevant as ever, boasting an alumni peppered with leading Australian artists and arts professionals, as well as those that have taken up other professions or whose practices while more low-key, continue to sustain them in meaningful ways.
A significant moment in the history of Hatched was the introduction of the Schenberg Art Fellowship, which since 2009 has created an opportunity for one Hatched artist each year to be presented with a cash award. This fellowship, now a generous $50,000 made possible by the Dr Harold Schenberg Bequest and presented in partnership with the University of Western Australia, has already provided an enormous boost to the emerging practices of twelve talented Australian artists.
Our Hatched Professional Development programs for emerging artists have expanded each year, more recently to include artist in residence opportunities and last year due to COVID restrictions our programs were delivered online. The silver-lining to a challenging, travel-free and generally very isolating scenario was the ability, through digital means, to connect artists more frequently and to more of their heroes and peers across Australia and internationally.
A game-changing moment for Hatched has undoubtedly been the introduction last year of the Hatched Curatorial Fellow, made possible by the foresight and generous support of Minderoo Foundation. This role not only offers a rare opportunity for an emerging curator to immerse themselves in every aspect of a large-scale project, such as Hatched, it also means that each Hatched artist, and their art school, receives dedicated support and attention. The feedback to this new initiative has been resoundingly positive and a testament to the skills and dedication of Miranda Johnson, our inaugural Curatorial Fellow.
In the lead up to 30th anniversary of Hatched, we commissioned an independent review of the exhibition, its format and its associated activities. Undertaken by Tracker Development with input from Hatched alumni, art schools, artists and arts professionals throughout Australia, the evaluation allowed us to take stock and test some of our assumptions about the role Hatched plays or could play in supporting emerging artists in Australia.
The over-riding response was extremely positive with a near unanimous view of the importance of Hatched and its unique and valuable role in Australia’s creative sector. There was also an overwhelming view, that apart from minor tweaks, we shouldn’t mess with it.
This was a clear and affirming message from an industry that doesn’t often hold back on being critical and one that acknowledges the vital and enduring role Hatched plays in nurturing emergent talent, elevating arts education and connecting creative communities across Australia.
This 30th anniversary Hatched website includes profiles of all 2021 exhibiting artists as well as exhibition documentation. It also contains profiles and statements from one artist in every preceding year of Hatched, capturing a snapshot of the over 1,500 artists who have exhibited as part of Hatched over its long history. we hope this digital archive allows for the opportunity to reflect on the past while celebrating the achievements of the latest cohort.
I will take this opportunity to acknowledge all those who have been part of the extraordinary Hatched journey over the past thirty years and invite everyone to join us in celebrating its successes and raising a toast to its future.